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I have been trying to repair a laptop that simply beeps instead of booting. After taking it apart I have now realised that it is the hard disk beeping. I know that may sound strange but I guarantee that is what it is! (Currently powered on it's own with a Sata Mains lead).

The beeping is slightly faster than one per second there is a link to this recording.

This recording was made resting the mic on the hard disk while it was sat on a table on it's own, there are no speakers anywhere near, the sound is coming from the hard disk.

Does anyone know what this beep means? Is the hard drive just dead, or is it fixable and the data recoverable?

Many thanks,

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Hard disks usually beep when the head moving mechanism is stuck or the drive motor that spins the platters is likewise detained. The 'stuck' can be mechanical or due to a drive electronics failure. Depending on how you want to proceed and how valuable the contents of the data are, there are a few options:

  1. Send the disk to recovery experts
  2. Apply power for a few seconds, remove power, wait a few sconds and repeat a few times to see whether this frees any stuck parts
  3. Power up the disk and give it a moderate thwack with the handle of a fairly large screwdriver on one of the sides (not the top or bottom)
  4. Power down the disk and wait for it to cool completely. Place the disk in an freezer bag and seal it, removing as much air as possible. Place the disk in a freezer for about 24 hours, remove disk, reconnect it to the PC and see whether it works - the theory is that cooling down all the parts may unstick things. If this works, you may have a limited amount of time to get the data off before things warm up.

Good luck.

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Tried 2, 3 & 4 to no avail, although the beeping now sounds slightly different, luckily it wasn't too valuable data and most of it was backed up. Thanks for your time! – Pez Cuckow Jan 8 '11 at 20:21

Beeping could mean several things inside a hard drive. If you cannot hear the motor spin up then the heads could be stuck to the platters (stiction), or the motor seized. If the data i important then DO NOT continue to tinker with it as you will just hinder any chance of recovery. Clean room repair is almost always needed in these cases. Check around until you can find a professional data recovery company you are comfortable in dealing with. Make sure they have the clean room on-site and don't outsource your drive to a third party to avoid over cost and privacy breaches.

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